Where Do The Red Sox Go From Here?
As the stretch run comes here in August, it’s been a roller coaster season for the Boston Red Sox. They started off by capitalizing on insane offensive production in April and May, jumping out to a near .600 winning clip. But then June came, and the Sox went 10-16, due in part to injuries, poor starting pitching from everyone but Steven Wright/Rick Porcello, and anemic offensive output with runners in scoring position. And despite being one of the better teams in the American League during most of July, the Red Sox in August have fallen back to playing in a way that made June an awful month.
Even though there we some dramatic late-inning home runs by Dustin Pedroia and Mookie Betts against the Los Angeles Angels and Seattle Mariners respectively, the Red Sox went 5-6 on the eleven-game road trip out west. Similarly, they lost two out of three to the New York Yankees at home – all of which were winnable games. The bottom line is, Boston needs to improve with runners in scoring position while maintaining a lead once they get one.
There’s no question that David Price’s performance last Sunday in Chavez Ravine was a setback, especially considering the fact that opposing starter Brandon McCarthy could not find the strike zone whatsoever. He’ll get an opportunity tonight against the lowly Arizona Diamondbacks for a reset. There’s also been bullpen struggles as of late, in particular recent outings from Fernando Abad and Junichi Tarawa. Since the all-star break, the Red Sox have seven bullpen losses, that’s four less from Baltimore and three less than Toronto.
Additionally, John Farrell’s mismanagement of the bench in National League hosted games continued to hurt the Sox on Sunday, specifically the loss of David Ortiz’s bat after one plate appearance and Steven Wright being put in to pinch run. Which, by the way, is causing Wright to miss his next start due to an injury obtained while base-running.
That’s right, Boston’s best pitcher is being sidelined because of a base-running injury. Ironically, his replacement is Clay Buchholz, who missed time for the same reason back in 2010.
You can’t make this stuff up folks.
So the question remains, where do they go from here?
Well, in my opinion, they must go all in for the wild card. And they must do so for three different reasons.
For starters, they traded blue-chip prospect Anderson Espinoza for Drew Pomeranz three weeks ago. One does not simply give up elite pitching talent for a middle-line pitcher and then miss the playoffs. That is unacceptable.
Second, there is still too much talent on this team for the season to go to waste. Xander Bogaerts hitting above .300, Betts on pace for a potential 30-30 season, Ortiz heading into retirement with and 1.014 OPS, Rick Porcello with a record of 15-3, and with Wright not far behind at 13-5.
Did I mention that the Red Sox lead the entire league in runs scored, hits, batting average, on base percentage, slugging percentage and OPS? A playoff-less October for Boston would be a colossal waste of such production.
But the last reason, and also the most important reason, is for the future. There is no doubt that a young core of players exists in Boston – ones that will be cornerstones of the franchise for the next decade. The core needs play off experience to grow from and build off of for years to come. Sure Xander Bogaerts was just a late-season call up in 2013, but he did produce during their World Series championship run. However, it was limited and three years ago. Now is the time for Betts, Jackie Bradley, and even Andrew Benintendi to get their postseason experience started.
Experience like that is instrumental in the building of a dynasty.
But the dynasty has to start sometime, which is why it’s crucial that the Red Sox begin playing to their full potential again.
Time is running out on 2016.